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Where Love Abounds

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shame

Love covers a multitude of sins…

phonto

The power of Love is amazing…not just any love, but God’s love, poured out on the cross for us…a love that can run into the deepest places.

His love can literally cover any sin…any hurt…any disease and bring healing and restoration.

BUT…this verse is not an instruction, or even excuse, to create a culture of secrecy – particularly surrounding abusive circumstances. The love talked about here is not a ‘blanket’ to be thrown over sin, covering it up in the name of protection, hiding what’s festering away underneath.

Love is not a band-aid to stick on a wound and hope it heals.

No one likes to highlight abuse – it’s not a pleasant subject, it’s messy, painful and there are often consequences to the establishment bringing it into the open…let alone to all the individuals involved.

I recently completed some training looking at serious case reviews for abuse in education settings. One case clearly ticked all the boxes for an immediate referral to child protection at the highest level (4). As we went around the room sharing our feedback and justification for chosen level, one member shared how they identified it as a level 1 (lowest level). In theory this was a young child presenting with physical injury, stating it was caused by their parent – and this member of the group had not wanted to “jump to conclusions” or “cause more problems” – particularly in case the child was lying. No wonder so much abuse goes un dealt with.

The church is even more vulnerable in these circumstances. Scripture has often been taken out of context. We are taught that love believes the best, love covers sin and we take no account of a suffered wrong. Believe me, I’ve had all these things said to me in the worst of situations!

Does the bible say these things? Yes. But maybe not as we’ve been led to interpret. There are some things that need to be brought into the light in order to be dealt with. Too often we shy away from dealing with the uncomfortable issues in life – leaving people to drown in depths of shame and despair. Victims afraid to speak up for fear of not being believed, their situation being belittled and then being sent back into the lion’s den to continue to fight for survival.

Does this mean that we should shout from the rooftops and publicly expose every abuser – no, not necessarily. But that does not mean we say and do nothing, pretending it’s never happened and hoping that time will magically erase the issue.

Time does not heal an abuser. Time does not heal a victim.

Love does not cover sin by sweeping it under the carpet, nor does it cover sin by staying in a place of denial.

God, who is Love, allows us to be able to come alongside others and love them in their darkest places. Love does not make an excuse for sin, but it allows us to release His healing. Love gives us a voice to speak up for those who need it, but does not permit needless gossip.

Do I believe in forgiveness? Yes.
Do I believe in restoration? Absolutely.

I believe we are to love unconditionally. But I have learnt that unconditional love does not mean becoming a doormat to be trampled on. Unconditional love believes the best – not disregarding the truth of a situation, or loving the place of pain and acts of abuse – but believing for God’s best for that person. Unconditional love will release anything and anyone back into the hands of God for Him to have His way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Broken to Beautiful – Kintsukuroi

“Kintsukuroi” – Golden Repair 

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This Japanese technique takes something broken and not only repairs it, but places value in the brokenness by mending with gold. The philosophy behind this art is to acknowledge that breakage and repair form part of the history of the object.

I’m not sure there could be any other art form that so closely imitates the love of God in our life and I love what it represents for us.

I’ve known brokenness, what it feels like to be beyond repair. I’ve felt the shame of the scars I carry – wounds both physical and mental that threaten to stick around as constant memoirs of the battle ground of life. Years wasted believing that my value was diminished because of the paths I’d walked. I’ve lived under the condemning weight of others words as they’ve instilled judgement, condemnation and negative reports.

I used to think there was no way out, destined for a life of survival, just living to make it through one day to the next with my arms outstretched carrying the broken pieces of my life.

There’s only so long you can go on like this – and I tried it too many times!

I’m so thankful for the days when I’ve been completely broken, and laid all those pieces at the feet of Jesus (although sometimes it’s more like a crashing and dropping than an elegant laying down of all those pieces!). In those moments He so gently comes and pieces me back together…and somehow, more beautiful than before.

When we find ourselves broken He doesn’t cast us aside and render us useless, fit only for hiding in the dark corners of the basement never to be seen again or throwing out with the rubbish. Much like the art of Kintsukuroi, He doesn’t just stick us back together again with glue leaving an ugly trail highlighting the brokenness, He pours out His love and brings out beauty from the brokenness, placing value on the life that has been redeemed. To repair with gold is to instill more value into the object than it had before.

Through His work in our life we are able to come out the other side more victorious…
No longer bound by shame – but heads held high because of the value placed on our lives through His overwhelming goodness in lavishing His love into the most shattered places of our hearts – mending and healing, making us whole.

We can’t avoid the trials and challenges in life, but we can face them knowing that we won’t be broken beyond repair because there is One waiting to restore us every time, never allowing our value to decrease. He takes us through the process of “Golden Repair” filling the cracks with His gold, piecing us back together more beautiful than before.

 

 

 

 

Grace abounds in the midnight hour…

Shame is the liar that wraps itself around you, dragging you down with every step…

In the grip of struggles, challenges, addictions, bad habits, when guilt already wreaks havoc, shame comes to steal the hope that once offered release.

Shame will never be the factor that sets you free – shame often pulls you deeper into the very places you long to run from.

In our own strength we rarely find freedom, there’s a greater power needed to break the chains that enslave us. That power is grace.

I’ve walked through many troubles, stepped too close to the edge of life too many times, and by God’s grace I’m still here. Many of these experiences were journeys that took time…and lots of it. Choosing daily who I was living for.

One time I found myself up against a new challenge, one I had never expected to face, causing me to make some seriosuly wrong choices. Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months…what initially seemed harmless began to torment my mind and before I knew it, shame outweighed anything and I felt trapped.

I would cry out to God, beg Him to take this trouble away – but through the cloak of shame, I couldnt see any escape route offered. His love felt a million miles away, clouded out by the weight of sin.

One bad decision often leads to another, leading us down a dark path, which can seem to have no way out. You become blind to the truth and resign yourself to failure.

On the eve of potentially being about to knowingly cross the line and make a very bad decision the next day, I found myself crawling into bed in a state of complete double-mindedness…on the one hand, crying out for strength to make a different choice…on the other, resigned to failure.

I woke at 3:45am…nothing spectacular roused me from sleep…no angels in the room, no loud voice giving me an answer…just stillness.

In that dark, midnight hour, I felt to go and sit in my chair and wait on the Lord. I had no plan, no purpose, no idea what would happen…

I went…I sat…I lit candles and let the light fill the room before sunrise. I read the word, I prayed…but mostly I was still… I didn’t really understand what was happening, but in that moment I knew the Lord was fighting for me…all I had to do was sit…and wait…

After 3 hours it was done.
His loved flooded every part of my being…causing me to turn me heart from the lies of this struggle back to Him…
True, heart-felt repentence poured out of my soul…
His strength rose up within me…
His grace covered me replaced the cloak of shame.

It was over…
It was finished…

In the depth of night, in the midnight hour, His love cried out, His unfathomable grace broke the chains that held me down.

No judgement…no condemnation…
He didnt abandon the dark places of my soul…
He didn’t point the finger and place blame…
He loved me to the core of my being…and fought my battle for me…

His grace found me in the darkest hour…
His grace refused to leave me there…

His grace changes everything…
We don’t deserve it…yet He gives it…
More than that…He will reach deep down in the darkest place to stop us falling…
In His great love, His grace is poured out…
We don’t have to strive for it…we don’t receive it in our own strength…
We stand…we sit…we rest…in Him.

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